Injury prevents Coady from defending his job
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
08/07/2004




MACOMB, Ill. - It's been a tough few months for Rams safety Rich Coady.

First, the team selected a safety, Jason Shivers of Arizona State, in the fifth round of the draft. Then, veteran safeties Justin Lucas and Tom Knight were signed as free agents. Worst of all, training camp had barely begun when Coady was sidelined by back spasms.

"I've never had a lower-back problem before," said Coady, who had to walk nearly doubled over for several days. "I felt like I was about 90 years old." Even more painful has been standing by while others compete for his job.

"They tell you when you come into this league that every year, they're trying to replace you," said Coady, 28. "So you've just got to go out there and try to make yourself irreplaceable, and that's what camp's for. And when you're not able to do it because of injury, it's frustrating."

Coady has spent four of his five NFL seasons with the Rams - he played for Tennessee in 2002, then was reacquired in a trade last Aug. 31. For much of last season, Coady served as the Rams' No. 3 safety, behind starters Aeneas Williams and Adam Archuleta. He also was a valuable special-teams performer.

Coady is easing back into action, taking part in a limited number of drills. "I'm feeling pretty good," he reported Friday after the Rams and Chicago Bears practiced together. The teams will scrimmage at 10:30 a.m. today at Western Illinois University's Hanson Field.

Where's Kyle?

Coach Mike Martz had nothing new to report about offensive tackle Kyle Turley's back injury, mainly because Martz hasn't been able to track him down. Martz said Turley hadn't returned his phone messages.

"I wouldn't have any idea where he is or what's happened," Martz said. "I've called him four times and have not heard back from him. I just don't know."

Turley had offseason surgery for a herniated disc in March, and pain reoccurred early in camp. He left Sunday for an examination in St. Louis and also was expected to get evaluations in Los Angeles and Birmingham, Ala. Turley has expressed concern that his career could be in jeopardy.

Fighting or fun?

The last play of Friday morning's combined workout ended with a bang. Rams linebacker Tommy Polley and Bears fullback Bryan Johnson tangled, and soon some 150 football players were involved in a scrum, with a gaggle of coaches trying to pull them apart. No damage was done.

"What most people don't realize is, when we get in there close, most guys are laughing, because that's fun," Rams defensive end Tyoka Jackson said. "It's like a bunch of kids just pushing on each other. Nobody can really get hurt. We've got helmets and shoulder pads on. A little pushing and shoving never hurt anybody."

Loyal to Lovie

Lovie Smith, the Bears' first-year head coach, isn't the only former member of Martz's staff now wearing orange and blue. Bob Babich, the Rams' linebackers coach last year, is filling the same role for Smith.

"Coach Martz was great to me. He gave me my first opportunity to get into the NFL, and I will always be grateful for that," Babich said. "But I've known Coach Smith forever, and I was very excited to take the challenge with the Bears."

Nicassio is back

The Jesse Nicassio era with the Rams resumed Friday after a one-day hiccup. Nicassio, an undrafted rookie, was released Thursday to make room on the roster for center- guard Chris Dishman. But Nicassio didn't even have to leave town.

On Friday, guard Ryan Schau was cut, and Nicassio was back in the fold. Schau, a University of Illinois product, had missed most of camp with a back injury.

Tagliabue's roommate

After visiting Rams camp Thursday and spending the night in Thompson Hall, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue checked out Friday morning and headed for the Minnesota Vikings' camp in Mankato, Minn.

When housekeepers cleaned his room - which Rams general manager Charley Armey had relinquished for Tagliabue - they found an intruder: a small garter snake that apparently had stayed out of the commissioner's sight.